Posts Tagged With: straw

A Day at the Farm

So much fun!  Our weekend adventure of harvesting wheat and learning about where the ingredients in our pizza come from was a HUGE success!  Thanks so much to the Brays for hosting this awesome event; their farm was perfect.

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FSA brought coloring books and rulers.

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Our Farm Bureau agent helped kids plant their own seeds.

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This is me, showing how the harvested wheat is turned into flour.

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Grinding wheat with electricity was much easier than doing it by hand!

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These are beef cows for the hamburger toppings!

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And Nubian milk goats for making the mozzarella cheese.

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There was a straw maze.

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The sensory bin filled with wheat to play in!

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Riding in the combine was probably the best part!

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Caroline waits for her turn to ride and sports a “Thank a Farmer” sticker!

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Finally, its Carson’s turn!

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Is this machine way cool or what?!

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The stalks from the wheat are baled into straw. These huge bales are being sold to the highway dept. to be used to keep dirt in place while workers fix roads.

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All right, maybe the pizza was the best part! Yummy!

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Pepperoni comes from hogs!

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Lovin’ the cheese!

Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

History of Agriculture Theme Unit

One of the best things about homeschooling is choosing to study what you like!  We recently completed a theme unit on the history of agriculture.  If this sounds like fun to you, here ya go!



The American Family Farm by Joan Anderson

Farming Then and Now by Katie Roden

Pictures from the Farm by JC Allen and Son, Inc. (Brett loved this one!)

Case Photographic History by April Halberstadt

The Big Book of Tractors by John Deere

Tractor Mac Arrives at the Farm by Billy Steers (and other Tractor Mac books)

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingles Wilder, Chapters 10 &11

History of Agriculture Theme Unit


Keep a vocabulary list of all the new words you learn

Brainstorm facts you’ve learned about farming; choose one to write in your journal

Explore the poem “One for the Mouse, one for the crow, one to rot, one to grow”

Pretend you are living on a family farm __ years ago.  Write a letter to someone telling them about your day.


Create a timeline of farm history (We started about 1800.).  Add to it through the unit.  These ready-made timelines were great resources!

“Plant” (glue) ears of corn in numerical order.  For older students, plant numbers by 2s, 5s, etc. or backwards.

Use this website from to learn how many miles a man walked to plant one acre, how much a plow cost and billions of other math facts from the 19th Century!

Use the “one for the mouse” poem to do a little hands-on subtraction

History of Agriculture Theme Unit


Try this experiment to learn why rubber tires were a great improvement over horses hooves and steel wheels.

Experiment with tying straw sheaves.  If you don’t have straw large weeds from the side of  the road will work as well.  Will your sheaves protect the straw from the rain?

Make a farm diorama with a shoe box, clay, plastic toy cowboys and horses (can you figure out a way to dress your cowboys to look like farmers?), and any other things you can imagine!

Social Studies

Try sowing seeds yourself.  Grass seed is a great choice.

Use a hand grinder to grind wheat.

Watch the archival footage on these John Deere DVDs. CombinesTractors

Field Trip!  The best part of homeschooling– right?!  Visit Missouri Town, an Amish community, or similar location

History of Agriculture Theme Unit


Make a collage of seeds

Design a piece of machinery the could help farmers.  Use food boxes, paper towel tubes, brads, yarn, whatever!

Roll toy tractors in (washable) paint and create prints


The Parable of the Sower, Luke 8:5-8

Other Internet Resources

Country Life vs. City Life from Home School Year Blog

Farm Theme Pinterest board

Fun on the Farm by Fabulous in First Blog

Counting 1-5 Grain Bins from Hands On: As We Grow Blog

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Straw or Hay?

Last week I showed you boys picking up straw bales in the wheat field, but do you know what straw is?  Or how it is different from hay?  Before we begin, take a moment to create a hypothesis.  That crazy word actually means “educated guess.”  It is not a wild a crazy guess.  For example, it would be a bit silly for you to guess that straw bales are moon dust and hay is fairy dust.  Definitely not right.  But you do know a few things you could use to base your guess on.  You know it probably has to do with farming.  Yes, that is broad, but it would certainly eliminate moon and fairy dust.  You know straw has to do with a wheat field too.  That narrows it down a lot.  And you might know a few things I haven’t told you, like who eats hay or how your neighbor uses straw.  Now, using that information try to create an educated guess about what hay and straw are.

Write it down in your science journal.  Even if the answer is different from your guess you can still learn things from your guess.




Straw is the stalk of the wheat.  The combine can cut the wheat close to the ground, sucking in lots of stalk, separating it from the grain, and spitting in out in rows behind the combine.   Then the stalks can be gathered up and pressed tight into bales by a machine like the one in the picture above.  This machine wraps a plastic rope around the bales, holding them together.


Hay, on the other hand, is cut grass.  And often not just any old grass, but certain types of grass, like alfalfa.  Farmers cut the grass when it is a few feet tall with a special mower.  The grass dries, becoming hay.  A tool called a rake is pulled behind the tractor and the grass is moved into neat rows.  Now the baler can scoop up the hay, just like it does straw, pressing it tight and wrapping it with twine.

Straw and Hay are also used for different purposes.  Since animals eat grass all summer, farmers feed them hay in the winter.  Using special grass like alfalfa helps keep cows, horses, sheep and goats healthy when the grass isn’t growing.  Straw is often used on construction sites to keep the dirt from washing away and to keep the lawn wet as new grass grows.  Have you seen it on the sides of a new highway project or in a newly constructed neighborhood?  Straw is also often used a bedding for animals to sleep on and you might lay straw in the rows of your garden to keep weeds from growing.

Compare this answer with the guess you wrote down in your journal.  How do they compare?  Did you learn anything new?

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Part of working on a farm is learning about plants, weeds, soil, and equipment.  Part of being a farmer is learning how to drive a tractor and fix a combine.  And part of farming is just plain old hard work.  These boys are picking up straw bales from the wheat field behind our house.  They pick up each bale and stack it on the trailer.  When the trailer is full they stack each bale in a semi trailer.  When the semi trailer is full they stack each bale in the shed.  They worked for three days on just this field.  All three days the temperature was above 100 degrees with a higher heat index.  All three days they started at 5:00, after they had worked their regular jobs.


That is farming.

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